A few weeks ago, I made one of my favorite meatball recipes. It sent me on the search for more wonderful meatball recipes outside of the common flavor combinations with which I was already familiar. The first recipe I came across in my search was one by British food writer and cookbook author Ruby Tandoh for Meatballs with Sticky Blackberry-Anise Sauce from her most recent cookbook, . The meatballs have a great flavor profile for combining with winter’s berries to make a slightly thick sauce, perfect for mixing with other roasted root vegetables which may be on your plate — or mopping up with a nice, thick slice of bread. —
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Meatballs with Sticky Blackberry-Anise Sauce
Makes 32, serving 4
You need something fruity to balance the comforting heft of these meatballs. Usually it’d be a redcurrant or lingonberry sauce, but I’ve opted for something a little darker: an inky blackberry sauce, spiked with anise for a gentle licorice sweetness. You can make a sauce with a little beef stock and double cream, too, if you really want to go all out, but I don’t think these meatballs need it. Glazed with dark blackberry and served with buttery mash, this is a comfort food dream without any overwhelming richness.
For the sauce:
— 2 cups (12 ounces / 350 g) blackberries
— 2 cups + 2 tablespoons (225 g) sugar
— 3 tablespoons (50 ml) water
— 3 star anise
— 1 dried bay leaf
— 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
For the meatballs:
— 1/2 pound (250 g) ground pork
— 1/2 pound (250 g) ground beef
— 50g white breadcrumbs
— 2 shallots or 1⁄2 onion, finely chopped
— 2 teaspoons dried thyme
— 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
— 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
— 1/3 cup (75 ml) milk
— Oil, for frying
First, prepare the blackberry sauce. Heat all the sauce ingredients in a small pan and simmer for 15 minutes, crushing the blackberries under the back of a spoon as it cooks. When the mixture is syrupy, strain out the blackberry seeds through a fine mesh sieve. Set the strained mixture back over the heat and simmer for 5–10 minutes, until sticky and thicker. Leave to cool and turn jammy, then add a little more water if the sauce is too sticky, or place back over the heat for a few minutes if it’s not quite thick enough. Set aside while you prepare the meatballs, re-warming it when the rest of the dish is ready.
Combine all the meatball ingredients except the oil in a large bowl, and work together using your hands.
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Shape the meatball mixture into 32 small balls and cook them over a high heat for 3 minutes, turning frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a further 10–12 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Serve with the blackberry sauce — you can toss this through the meatballs in the pan, with a splash of water, if you want to glaze them all over — and heaps of smooth mash.
About Ruby: Ruby Tandoh entered Great British Bake Off at the age of 20. She quickly impressed with her creative approach to ingredients and flavor taking precedence over decoration. Ruby subsequently wrote a weekly food column for the Guardian for two years, has written columns for British ELLE and has made documentaries for BBC Radio 4. Her first book, , was published in 2014. She spends her time in Southend-on-Sea cooking, eating and watching Take Me Out. She can be found on and .